Basically, going vegan is a very healthy lifestyle which is known to decrease both cholesterol levels and the risk of heart diseases. However, are there any shortfalls that are related to the vegan lifestyle? On the one hand, Mary Lynch praises the beneficial health impact of consuming vegan foods. On the other hand, she points out the often underestimated risks that should be avoided when going vegan.
“As a registered nutritionist, the question “Is the vegan diet healthy?” is one I get all the time, especially at this time of year. Frustratingly, the answer is that it depends as much on what you eat as with any other diet. Someone living purely on ready salted crisps or chips, for example, would be technically following a vegan diet, but it would in no way be healthy.
However, research shows that there are potential benefits to a vegan diet. A recent study indicated that the average vegan diet is higher in vitamin C and fibre, and lower in saturated fat than one containing meat. In addition, statistics show that vegans have a lower BMI (height-to-weight ratio) than meat eaters – in other words, they are skinnier.
You see, a diet without any meat or dairy products is likely to contain a lot less saturated fat, which is related to increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. We also know that fat contains more calories per gram than other foods, and so vegans may consume fewer calories as a result. Finally, a vegan diet is generally thought to contain more cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds than a non-vegan diet.
Sounds great right? Not quite. In terms of micronutrients, a vegan diet is actually more susceptible to being nutritionally poor. A vegan diet is naturally low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, if you follow a vegan diet it is essential that you get enough of these nutrients through specific vegan food sources – and may even need to take additional supplements. We have many recipes suitable for vegans that can help, just check out our vegan section. In our features we also have this traditional hummus recipe, which contains tahini – a good source of calcium, zinc and iron, which are all micronutrients hard to get a hold of on a vegan diet.”
To read the rest of the article, check it out on the original source over at Jamie Oliver.